EM 2024: Ralf Rangnick and Austria – With self-irony to the EM favourite

EM 2024: Ralf Rangnick and Austria – With self-irony to the EM favourite

European Championship group victory

Rangnick and Austria – Self-irony turns them into European Championship favourites

Status: 00:32 | Reading time: 4 minutes

Spectacle to group victory – Austria’s sensational coup in video

The Austrian national team also impressed against the Netherlands and sensationally secured group victory ahead of France. In a fast-paced match, Sabitzer scored the Austrians’ lucky goal late on. The highlights in the video.

15 months ago, the Austrians produced an ironic song about a historic defeat. After winning their group, Ralf Rangnick’s team is a serious contender for the title. The formula for success lies somewhere between gallows humor and attacking pressure.

25 years ago, Austrian football was at its lowest point. The national team, coached by Herbert Prohaska at the time, lost 9-0 to Spain in qualifying for the 2000 European Championships. Austria had only lost by a bigger margin once before, in 1908, when it was 11-1 to England. The defeat against Spain was a new low.

And at the same time it is the starting point for the history that Austria is currently writing at the European Championships in Germany. After the brilliant 3:2 victory against the Netherlands, Austria surprisingly moved into the round of 16 as group winners of the tough Group D. Vice World Champion France only came second behind Austria.

On Tuesday, a song was played over the speakers of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium that linked the two games, the 0:9 against Spain and the 3:2 against the Netherlands. “Hoch gwimmas (n)imma” (German: we won’t win high anymore) by the band AUT of ORDA. The song satirizes a legendary half-time interview during the Spain humiliation.

Legendary halftime interview inspires the song

In 1999, Austria was already 5-0 down at half-time. Central defender Toni Pfeffer nevertheless answered questions from an ORF reporter who wanted to know what was still possible in the second half. Then came the legendary sentence, and Pfeffer replied: “We won’t win by a large margin.” A sentence that years later would be the inspiration for the Austropop band’s song. A song in which coach Ralf Rangnick and the two national players David Alaba and Konrad Laimer also take part.

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An excerpt from the (Germanized) lyrics: “If we win, we’ll be happy. And if not, we’ll just go skiing again.” A song that smiles at its own failures and pokes fun at its own clichés. True to the motto: He who suffers the damage is the best at making self-ironic mockery.

Ralf Rangnick (r.) celebrates the group victory with David Alaba and substitute goalkeeper Heinz Lindner


The current European Championship song is well received by fans and players – even if Rangnick explains: “‘I’m from Austria’, the song is even more authentic, even more fitting for the team and the country.” After the victory, the team and fans sang the popular song by Rainhard Fendrich together in the stands.

Austria now plays Rangnick football

Midfielder Marcel Sabitzer said: “If I had to rank them: First comes ‘I’m from Austria’ and then ‘Strada del Sole’, those are our favourites. But the song (“Hoch gwimmas (n)imma”, editor’s note) is also part of our story on the way to Germany.”

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This path is inevitably linked to coach Rangnick. The former Leipzig player has been national coach since summer 2022. He completely overhauled the team and its style of play. In the summer, he turned down FC Bayern because he wanted to continue the project in Austria. Now Austria is playing Rangnick football: high runs, early pressing, intensive running and pleasing short passing.

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The Netherlands were also taken by surprise in the early stages. Austria took the lead in the 6th minute with an own goal by BVB player Donyell Malen. Shortly after the break, Austria was beaten at their own game, with Gakpo punishing a loss of the ball in the centre circle. But Austria, considered the dark horse before the European Championship, overcame the setback. Twice in fact. First, Bremen’s Romano Schmid scored (59th minute), Memphis Depay equalised (75th minute). Just five minutes later, Sabitzer scored the third lead of the day. This time it was enough.

“Whoever would have guessed that would be rich now,” says Rangnick

Rangnick is visibly satisfied: “In the early stages we felt like we had 80 percent possession against Holland, you have to be able to do that. What impressed me most was the team’s reaction to the two goals we conceded. We continued to play forward courageously and were rewarded twice.”

The shot of luck: Sabitzer scores past van de Ven to make it 3-2

Quelle: Getty Images/Dan Mullan

Because France could only manage a 1:1 draw against Poland in the parallel match, Austria is suddenly the group winner – even though Rangnick and Co. had narrowly lost to France in the opening match (0:1). “We were under a lot of pressure before the match against Poland. To now be group winners is unbelievable. Anyone who would have guessed that would be rich now. But that’s the beauty of football – also that we were rewarded for our energetic performance,” said the Austria coach.

Rangnick rejects the role of European Championship favourite

But the dark horse is still a long way from becoming a favorite. That doesn’t suit Rangnick’s nature or his down-to-earth attitude and self-irony. Instead, Rangnick said: “I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll become European champions. But it’s not completely out of the question either.” And Rangnick also refused to accept the fact that Austria might be the favorite for the first time in the tournament in the round of 16. It’s still unclear who the Austrians will face in the round of 16. That will only become clear once Group F, which includes Portugal, has played all its games.

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Austria’s victory against Holland

The 0:9 defeat against Spain 25 years ago is long forgotten. But there may be a chance for revenge. Austria and Spain can meet in the final of the European Championship at the earliest…


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